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The Life-Writer

Tekijä: David Constantine

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
665381,396 (3.33)2
After the death of her beloved husband, Katrin, a literary biographer, copes with the loss by writing his personal history. While researching the letters and journals he left behind, however, she comes to the devastating conclusion that his life before their marriage was far richer than the one they shared. To understand and recreate the period of his greatest happiness hitch-hiking through France as a young man, madly in love with his companion, a French girl named Monique. Katrin embarks on a heartbreaking journey to discover the man she never fully knew.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 5/5
Beautifully written and, at times it moved me greatly. However, I had a hard time accepting the premise that a widow would find comfort in learning about her husband's past loves. ( )
  LynnB | Oct 23, 2020 |
There is a moment of understated poignancy (one among many such) in David Constantine’s novel The Life-Writer when Katrin—struggling through the aftermath of her husband Eric’s death and writing his biography—realizes that his life was much more dramatic and thrilling before she became a part of it, that she only came to know him on the tranquil downside, long after the passions were quenched and the adventures were over. It is typical of the discoveries that Katrin makes, as she sorts through the letters and memories that Eric has left behind. Eric, 68 at the time of his death and many years older than her, lived an entire life before they met, and though Katrin has always understood this, as her research progresses she often finds herself shocked and bruised by the details of this previous life. Katrin, an academic and writer, has focused her professional career on the lives of minor figures of European romanticism: artists, writers and musicians who aspired to greatness but never quite measured up. She is fascinated by their relentless striving and how, in the end, they either accepted their mediocrity or continued to rebel against it. When Eric dies, as both therapy and tribute, she decides she will treat him as one of her subjects, and in the process, finds that her husband loved with reckless abandon, disappointed his family, and let impulsive decisions and wayward behaviour damage his career prospects. The revelation that Eric was human and made mistakes does not surprise her. But the fact that she responds to this discovery by doubting his love for her does. Constantine’s novel fully immerses the reader in Katrin’s consciousness. It is a compelling narrative that as you get deeper into it becomes somewhat suffocating, and readers may find themselves looking for ways to gain a bit of distance from Katrin’s anxious self-criticisms. But it is also a beautiful, wise and compassionate book filled with memorable passages and stunning visuals, written with depthless understanding of the mysteries of the human heart. ( )
  icolford | Jun 11, 2017 |
When her older husband dies, Katrin works through her grief by deploying her skills as a biographer in order to piece together a fateful year in her late husband’s life: 1962-1963. Eric was on the verge of going up to Oxford. At the end of the summer he sets off for France to a village near the Alps where he had agreed to meet up with some school friends. His journey there and back changes his life, introducing him to the woman who might have been the love of his life, Monique. Katrin both fears a confrontation with this past prior to her own birth, and is morbidly fascinated by it. Through Eric’s letters, and conversations with friends and relations, she works out what must have occurred. But will it bring her relief or will it only fuel the excesses of grief?

Constantine’s tone here is emotional, almost overwrought. And so Katrin’s controlled, almost distant, examination of the historical record must follow a delicate thread maintaining our sympathy without becoming maudlin. But what can she really hope to gain through this exercise? That remains unclear. Or is this in fact a kind of self-harm?

Although this novel treads some of the same ground as Constantine’s famous short story, “In Another Country,” don’t expect a similar payoff. The object here is more nuanced, less cataclysmic, and the rough outline is known by Katrin in advance. Since the investigation itself is not the object (this isn’t a mystery), Constantine must be pointing us to something else. And that, most likely, has something to do with the way that the writing of a life (whether you accept a narrative view of the self or not) has a way of taking ownership for it.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jan 28, 2017 |
This is a wonderful and sensitive novel about a woman who processes the death of her spouse by treating him as the subject of a biography and begins the arduous task of reading his correspondence and interviewing old friends. In particular, she spends a great deal of time with the correspondence between him and a prior passionate love, Monique. We learn that this love burned with much more passion than he had for Katrin. The novel touches many issues---how well and how much do we know about our spouses and their past lives, and how deeply we really know them and about how we love different people differently. It also made me think a great deal about what we will leave behind as so much of our correspondence is now electronic. Personal letters are how biographers pull together insights about their subjects. How will we access and recover this vital information? ( )
  Mark.Kosminskas | Dec 19, 2016 |
This is a beautiful book about a literary biographer named Katrin, whose beloved husband, Eric, is dying from cancer. I had to marvel at the author’s ability to so movingly depict those last months they have together. After Eric’s death, Katrin starts reading through his paperwork and old letters and decides to write his life history in the hope that it will help her through her grief. As painful as it is, she begins to reconstruct the time frame when Eric falls passionately in love with Monique when he was a young man. Katrin had been so happy with Eric but now she begins to doubt whether their life together could begin to compare with his love for Monique.

Katrin’s dwelling on Eric’s past became obsessive. There were times when Katrin would want to stop reading the letters and just get on with her life and I wanted to selfishly plead with her to please keep reading since I wanted to know more. This was one of those books that I didn’t want to end and when it did end, I wanted to start from the beginning again and that doesn’t happen often. This book wrapped its words around my heart and just wouldn’t let go. Gorgeous writing that touched me in so many ways.

The only negative thing about the book was that there were times when the French was not translated and I had no idea what was being said. There was one vitally important sentence in a letter from Monique to Eric that wasn’t translated which I found very frustrating. At the end of the book, there was a list of translations with the page numbers, which wasn’t very helpful when reading an e-book. Plus I wasn’t aware those translations were there until the book had ended. Since I was reading an ARC of the book, hopefully that will be rectified in the final edition.

Highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review. ( )
1 ääni hubblegal | Sep 27, 2016 |
näyttää 5/5
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Henkilöt/hahmot
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Tärkeät paikat
Tärkeät tapahtumat
Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Tiedot venäjänkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
Omistuskirjoitus
Ensimmäiset sanat
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Then Eric said, I don't want to be like that colleague of yours, Dennis What's-his-name, I don't want to be like him, clinging on, nothing else in his head every minute of every day, nothing only clinging on.
Sitaatit
Viimeiset sanat
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
Erotteluhuomautus
Julkaisutoimittajat
Kirjan kehujat
Alkuteoksen kieli
Kanoninen DDC/MDS
Kanoninen LCC

Viittaukset tähän teokseen muissa lähteissä.

Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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After the death of her beloved husband, Katrin, a literary biographer, copes with the loss by writing his personal history. While researching the letters and journals he left behind, however, she comes to the devastating conclusion that his life before their marriage was far richer than the one they shared. To understand and recreate the period of his greatest happiness hitch-hiking through France as a young man, madly in love with his companion, a French girl named Monique. Katrin embarks on a heartbreaking journey to discover the man she never fully knew.

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